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The Prime Minister's interview with Allison Langdon, Today Show

  • Written by Allison Langdon

ALLISON LANGDON: Prime Minister, good morning. 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ally.

 

LANGDON: I'll tell you what, bit of a bad day for you in the office yesterday, wasn't it? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Every day I get to serve the Australian people is a good day. It has its challenges, it goes with the job, and you keep pressing ahead and get things done. 

 

LANGDON: Some days are better than others, I'm sure. But look, I mean, that text exchange yesterday was pretty shocking to hear, and you were put on the spot. It was live on television. What was running through your mind? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don't know the status of that. I never accept at face value that things are put to me, particularly when they're done anonymously. I mean, there was no context to it or any really details behind it. It was clearly done for sensationalist purposes. That's what happens from time to time. It was a pretty robust day at the the press conference. I'm sure the Press Gallery will be just as hard on my opponent as we go into the election. They were pretty rough on me yesterday, but that's alright, that goes with the job. 

 

I was happy to face those questions and importantly, what yesterday was about was setting out very clearly that economic plan, which I believe will see unemployment get to a three in front of it, which we haven't seen in 50 years. I mean, our jobs performance during this pandemic has been extraordinary. We've got a million more women in work since we were elected, and this is really transforming people's lives. Jobs change people's lives, they change families, they change communities. And that's why I'm so focused on getting people into work. Unemployment's at 4.2 per cent. We've got more trade apprentices in training today since 1963, when records began. So our economy is performing strongly through the pandemic, and that means Australians can look forward to the future with confidence, and economic management means more than ever before. 

 

LANGDON: So you must have been so dirty that this is something, when you're trying to get that message out there, this was deliberately leaked to damage you, and this goes to your character. It goes to your trustworthiness. Who does that?

 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, someone who we don't know, and I just don't really let it fuss me, Ally. I mean, in this job, you take the brickbats and you take the bouquets. I mean, go and read my social media feed. There's no shortage of people who vent, and there's no shortage of people who say nice things. If you're going to spend each day consumed by that, you don't get the important work done for the Australian people, which is about putting pressure down on the cost of living. I mean, electricity prices have fallen by eight per cent in the last two years. You've got 300,000 Australians, I said yesterday, that we have directly helped into buying their home since the last election - 300,000 through the Home Guarantee Scheme, through the HomeBuilder program. You know, Australians have been getting on with things. I'm getting on with things. We're going to push through this pandemic. We've got the lowest death rate, the highest vaccination rate of most countries in the world, and one of the strongest economies. And on those big issues, our pandemic response measures up very well. But it hasn't been perfect, and I was fairly honest with Australians about that yesterday. No countries’ has, but I'd rather be in Australia than anywhere else. 

 

LANGDON: Look, I can understand why you’re wanting to dismiss this, and I agree that I think people sitting at home, they don't really care about what people within your own party have to say about you for too long, anyway. It’s not what sticks with them. 

 

PRIME MINISTER: It doesn’t affect their job, it doesn’t affect the price of things that they're paying for. It it doesn't affect their futures. So, you know, you have big, broad shoulders and you learn from experience, and experience is going to count in the years’ ahead and the ability to push through and stand up to those in, whether in our region or elsewhere, that really do threaten our interests.

 

LANGDON: But there is still someone out there, though, there's still someone there trying to do you in. It doesn't get a greater betrayal than that, does it? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: I really don't care, Ally, what people who want to anonymously throw this stuff around. I mean, the journalist who raised it is facing his own questions. So, look, I'll leave others to carry on about that. There are too many other important things for me to worry about who's gossiping about me.

 

LANGDON: Yeah, look, good point. And you raised it yesterday, you admitted that you made mistakes with the pandemic. If you take responsibility, what is the drama with apologising? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, last year, when the vaccine rollout was not going as well as we had hoped, I did exactly that, and we said we were going to get about and fix it, and that's what we did. And what I said yesterday is, you know, in hindsight, we would have brought General Frewen in at the outset, not when we were dealing with those problems. And that turned it around. A year ago we said we wanted everyone to be offered a vaccine by October. We ended up meeting that mark in October. And, so, we did turn it around. And that experience through the pandemic is going to be very valuable in the years ahead. I mean, the years ahead, there's some really big challenges. There's the economic challenges that we have. We've got inflation running at seven per cent in the United States. Thankfully, here in Australia, the inflation pressures are a lot lower at 3.5 per cent. We've got, it's five per cent in the United Kingdom. You know, we've got those electricity, those electricity prices down, and these are the things that we're going to be facing - great global insecurity in the region, particularly with the tension between China and the United States and what that means for security. You can see what's happening in Ukraine. You don't, you want to have someone who knows how to stand up for Australia's interests and to be able to push through a lot of these challenges and make sure Australia can come through. 

 

LANGDON: Hey, Prime Minister, do you know the cost of bread today? 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, I do. But, I mean, which one do you want? Do you want the rye bread, do you want the multigrain?

 

LANGDON: The one with the seeds.

 

PRIME MINISTER: Do you want the sourdough? And if we're going to get on to milk, are we just going to be the ones that come from dairy? Or is it the almond? I mean, you go to most family's fridges, they've got three types of different milk. I don't know what you put in your coffee, but, you know, look, honestly, the gotcha stuff from Gallery journalists, whatever. I was honest with people yesterday, and people know that. And yeah $2 bucks 60, $3 bucks 40, $1.60 to $1.80, you know, a litre, yeah, that's what it is. But what matters is the economic policies and the plans that we have to keep putting downward pressure on costs of living. That's what matters. And that's what we're doing. And I think those electricity prices figures demonstrate that, the number of trade apprentices we've got in training, the jobs that have been created, particularly for women and young people. This has been very important. It's transformational. We are pushing through this pandemic. 

 

One of the things I said yesterday is people know I'm a very optimistic person. And the reason for that is I have a great faith in the Australian people and their resilience, which I know is what I've relied on for Australia to come through. So I was honest with them yesterday. There are big challenges ahead. The experience we've gained as a Government is going to be invaluable to meet the challenges before us. But the record we have, as I said, 40,000 lives saved, and in particular, the work done by our mental health counsellors, where we put a billion dollars into our mental health support program. Very few other countries understood the mental health challenge like Australia did, and while every life lost through death by suicide is a heartbreaking tragedy, every life saved has been a blessing, and the actual death by suicide rate during the pandemic has fallen. So there is a lot we've got right. There are some things we could have done better, but in Australia we've done better than most in the world.

 

LANGDON: Look, and I think people appreciated your honesty yesterday, and I think a lot of people understand that the job that you face, you're not the one out there buying bread and milk. So for your honesty, that was great. But there is this drama there, and I think people have at home, where there is a thought, are you out of touch when your cost of living expenses, they are going up. Mortgages are going to go up if interest rates go up, what happens there, and wages are stagnant. So you say this is going to be election that's fought in regards to the economy and the cost of living, and that is something that is a very big pressure on most households right now. 

 

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, I agree, and that's the point I'm making, and that's why we've worked so hard to get those electricity prices down. And I agree with you, economic management and who's best able to manage the economy and deal with the serious threats that are out there in the economy is very central to the next election. And there's a choice. There's our record and our experience. You know, as Prime Minister, I've done three Budgets. As Treasurer I did three. I've sat around the national security table for some of the biggest challenges our country has faced since the Second World War for the last eight years. We've put in place the historic agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom in AUKUS to keep Australians safe, while locking down agreements with Japan on defence and comprehensive partnerships with India, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, ASEAN. I said yesterday one of the key lessons when you go through the pandemic is you, not all the rest of it stops. All the other threats are there. So you're absolutely right. Who can best manage the economy and who can best stand up for Australia's interests in a very insecure and unsecure world, that's very much central to the election.

 

LANGDON: Yep. Look, we've definitely got an election coming. And just quickly, Prime Minister, have you spoken to Gladys Berejiklian since yesterday?

 

PRIME MINISTER: No, I haven't. But I did see her statement yesterday, and I appreciate that. As you know, I took a very strong public stance, you know, defending her when she was under those attacks, which I thought were outrageous. And I stand by all of that.

 

LANGDON: Is she still a dear friend?

 

PRIME MINISTER: Of course.

 

LANGDON: Alright. Well, look, Prime Minister, you know, no one can write you off. I know they tried at the last election. There’s going to be a busy couple of months ahead and no doubt we'll be talking again soon. Thank you for your time this morning. 

 

PRIME MINISTER: No worries, enjoy your sourdough toast.

 

LANGDON: With with the little seed bits, they cost extra.

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